I once had a protestant friend tell me, “You’re the first Catholic I’ve known that actually lives a Christian lifestyle.”
I was really taken aback.
It’s heartbreaking to me to think that so many Catholics profess the faith but aren’t living it out.
We’re all called to be witnesses to Christ.
We’re called to be in the world but not of it.
And that can be really really really difficult.
Especially with all the influences of our culture, pulling us in so many different directions, demanding that we conform to their expectations of our behavior, mocking our lifestyle choices and practices of religion.
Charity is not mainstream.
Humility is not mainstream.
Carrying your Cross is not mainstream.
But these are the things required of us if we want to follow Christ.
And the Catholic Church gives us all the tools we need to be able to live that life in the midst of whatever cultural atmosphere we find ourselves in, no matter the challenges, no matter the adversity, no matter the persecution.
We have Sacred Scripture to feed us.
We have the Magisterium to guide us.
We have Sacred Tradition to enrich us.
We have the Sacraments to give us real and actual grace.
We have Jesus himself in the Eucharist, to strengthen us and to unite us to him and to make us become more like him.
When we receive Christ in Holy Communion, we take him into ourselves, and he in turn takes us up into himself. He transforms us.
Catholics, of all Christians, should be the most Christlike.
And yet, we fail so hard.
Many Catholics don’t act like Christians at all.
I think it is because many Catholics, at heart, do not believe in the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist.
Belief in the Eucharist is one of the main things that sets Catholicism apart. The teaching of the Eucharist is one of the first things that caused people to turn away from following Jesus.
The Eucharist is a tough teaching.
It’s hard to look at that tiny host and believe it’s really truly Jesus. It’s beyond our ability to reason out. It belies all evidence of the senses.
Belief in the Eucharist is a matter of faith.
And for many Catholics, faith is lacking.
How can we believe and follow the rest of the teachings of the Church – her teachings on virtue, her teachings on morality, her teachings on the finer points of theology – if we don’t believe and follow the teaching about the Eucharist that’s the source and summit of our faith?!
With so many Catholics living an unChristian lifestyle, it’s even more important that we strive to be the best witnesses to Christ we can be.
We must reject all the world tries to throw at us and shove down our throats, and open our hearts and our minds to the beauty and truth of what the Catholic Church reveals to us.
We must strengthen our faith if we want to strengthen our ability to witness to Christ.
How do we strengthen our faith? By an act of will. “I believe, Lord.”
How do we strengthen our faith? By the grace of God. “Lord, help my unbelief.”
I’m not perfect.
I’m far from it.
And my faith is weak, too.
And I pray for it to be stronger.
But I cling and I hold to the Eucharist, because that is the source of my strength.
And being strengthened by receiving Jesus and visiting him and adoring him in the Eucharist is the one way that I’ll ever be able to live the Christian life he calls me to.
It’s a huge burden we carry, as Catholics, to be witness to the Fullness of Truth.
But it’s a burden we don’t have to carry alone.
Jesus Christ in the Eucharist sets us apart and strengthens us to be his witnesses.
Turn to him, and turn back to him, and keep turning to him again and again.
Come, Lord Jesus.
Help me live as another Christ to the world.
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